Lately, I have been going to church a lot. Every day, in fact. Several times a day.
Not in the way you might think, though. I don’t actually mean I go into a church building, attend a church service, sing worship songs with a congregation several times a day.
What I mean is, I have changed my outlook on church.
I have been viewing every place I go as a place to meet God. And I have been pleasantly surprised.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love attending a church service on Sunday. I see it as vital to my Christian journey, to connect regularly with the body of Christ, to the larger Christian church. My journey would be incomplete without engaging in such communal worship, singing hymns, receiving Communion, and meeting afterwards for coffee and conversation.
But Sunday services are certainly not where Church ends, that is just the beginning.
Recently, I accompanied our study abroad students on a field trip into a remote area of the Belizean jungle for a Forest Ecology course. During that week, my church sanctuary was possibly even more beautiful than the French cathedrals where I’ve joined in Gregorian chants. My sanctuary was in a Belizean rainforest, late at night, searching for tapirs and kinkajous in holy silence, the forest alive with the chatter of cicadas and birds. My sanctuary was in an open field where stars shone brighter than I’ve seen in a long time with no light pollution for miles. It was in a deep cave, where voices echoed as we sang the Doxology together. And it was on a sunny dirt road, viewing one of God’s most beautiful creations, the scarlet macaw, their brightly colored feathers striking against the blue sky and verdant green leaves.
A colleague recently asked one of our visiting professors on a Saturday night, “Would you like to go to church, or go birding?”
“Aren’t they the same thing?” he asked with a smile.
Delighting in the beautiful things that God has created on this earth is worship.
The heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of his hand (Psalm 19:1).
As I learn more about the earth, I learn more about God. Seeing scarlet macaws in their natural habitat is a miracle to me; these breathtaking birds point to God’s creativity.
It reminds me of a favorite Emily Dickinson poem:
Some Keep the Sabbath Going to Church
Some keep the Sabbath going to Church –
I keep it, staying at Home –
With a Bobolink for a Chorister –
And an Orchard, for a Dome –
Some keep the Sabbath in Surplice –
I, just wear my Wings –
And instead of tolling the Bell, for Church,
Our little Sexton – sings.
God preaches, a noted Clergyman –
And the sermon is never long,
So instead of getting to Heaven, at last –
I’m going, all along.
Where have you enjoyed “church” lately?
Micalagh Beckwith Moritz is a social worker, writer, wife, sister, daughter, community member, continually learning how to do a better job at each of these roles. She is always contemplating how to love others better and to enjoy the small things of life; to see God in everything and everyone. She is passionate about caring for the environment, experiencing new cultures, and also important, eating cheese. She currently lives in Belize and has the privilege of teaching and learning from college/university students! She works with a Christian study abroad program: Creation Care Study Program (CCSP). Micalagh blogs at Only Small Things.